Julia de Burgos (1914-1953)

Julia de Burgos (1914-1953) was born in Carolina, Puerto Rico, on February 17, 1914. Talented as a child, she won scholarships, graduating first from the High School of the University of Puerto Rico, and later completed a degree in pedagogy at age 19.

In 1934, she married Rubén Rodríguez Beauchamp, but was divorced three years later. She then worked for P.R.E.R.A. (Puerto Rico Economical Rehablitation Agency), an agency that distributed food among the poor. After that, she began work as a teacher in a rural school in Naranjito; around this time, she wrote one of her most emblematic poems: “Río Grande de Loíza.”

In 1938 she met the love of her life, Juan Isidro Jimenes Grullón, a renowned physician and exiled Dominican sociologist, son and grandson of past presidents of the Dominican Republic, who was married, but separated from his wife. In 1940 they moved to New York, where Julia intended to work as a journalist, and in 1941 to Cuba, where de Burgos began to take courses in Greek, Latin, French, biology, anthropology, sociology, psychology at the University of Havana. When the relationship ended in 1942, de Burgos then moved to New York, where she held jobs as optics inspector, employee at a chemical laboratory, selling lamps, clerk, and seamstress. There, she met poet Armando Marín, she married him, and moved with him to Washington, D.C. However, still suffering from the breakup with Jimenes Grullón and from the discovery that she had cancer, gradually plunged her into a deep depression; this led her to drink and, in 1946, to a diagnosis of cirrhosis of the liver. She lived in New York from 1946 until the date of her death. On July 6, 1953, Julia de Burgos was found unconscious on 106 Street and Fifth Avenue in Manhattan; she died soon afterwards of pneumonia at a Harlem hospital [see previous post Julia de Burgos Remembered].

Besides appearing in journals, her poems were published in two exquisite collections: Poema en veinte surcos (1938) and Canción de la verdad sencilla (1939). Unfortunately, her first collection of poems, Poemas exactos a mí misma (1937), was lost without ever being published, while the last one, El mar y tú (1954), for which Pablo Neruda had promised to write the foreword, was eventually published posthumously.

For full article (in Spanish), see http://www.elnuevodia.com/juliadeburgosvidacortaeintensa-1006858.html

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